Black Mental Health Graduate Academy

Join Our Black Mental Health Graduate Academy

The United States is becoming more multiracial, multiethnic, and multilingual.

Although racial/ethnic minorities represent 30% of the population, approximately 90% of mental health professionals identify as non-Hispanic White (Annapolis Coalition, 2007).

In 2013, only 5.3% of psychologists were Black/African American (American Psychological Association, 2015) and today fewer than 5% of Black students are enrolled in graduate-level psychology programs (APA Center for Workforce Studies, 2010).

The paucity of mental health professionals from racial/ethnic minority backgrounds is a critical contributing factor to mental health disparities (Annapolis Coalition, 2007). A more racially/ethnically diverse mental health workforce is needed to increase competent and compassionate care for all people.


How We Make a Difference

William James College's Black Mental Health Graduate Academy is an academic pipeline program, which is designed to recruit, mentor, and support Black students in master's and doctoral degree programs for mental health counseling and psychology. Under the auspices of the Center for Multicultural and Global Mental Health (CMGMH), the Academy provides critical mentorship, career orientation, skill building, and professional enrichment to support academic excellence in graduate school. The Academy represents the College's commitment to decreasing racial/ethnic disparities by diversifying the mental health workforce and providing support to historically marginalized and underserved groups.

Olivia Fenty sitting on a bench in a garden“I'm really excited to be in a community with other Black scholars. Everyone has fascinating research interests, so I'm looking forward to talking about research in a way that pushes me to explore my identity further.”

Olivia Fenty
Black Mental Health Graduate Academy

Program Components

In 2016, William James College’s Center for Multicultural and Global Mental Health inaugurated the Black Mental Health Graduate Academy. The Academy—a leadership and mentoring program—is designed to recruit and mentor Academy Scholars—talented Black individuals committed to pursuing graduate degrees in mental health counseling and psychology. The Academy represents William James College’s (WJC) commitment to decreasing racial/ethnic disparities by diversifying the mental health workforce.

The Academy’s Mentorship Program provides critical cultural and academic support to our Scholars. In addition, the Academy’s Professional Development Program provides career orientation, skill building, and professional enrichment to support Scholars’ academic and career excellence. The Academy is committed to developing future leaders by:

  1. Reinforcing Scholars’ appreciation for multiculturalism and developing relationships with individuals from diverse cultural backgrounds.
  2. Enhancing Scholars’ abilities to competently navigate racial, cultural, and sociopolitical challenges.
  3. Encouraging Scholars’ intellectual growth by supporting their critical-thinking skills.
  4. Strengthening Scholars’ abilities to articulate career choices based on assessment of interests, values, skills, and abilities.
  5. Fostering Scholars’ civic engagement in local, national, and global communities as well as their willingness to challenge unfair and unjust behaviors.

As of December  2021, the Academy has had a total of 59 Scholars from WJC’s masters and doctoral level degree programs. Accounting for graduations, the Academy has grown from the pioneering group of 17 Scholars in 2016 to the current cohort of 28. Sixty-six percent have been in the Clinical Psychology doctoral program and about 60% are of Caribbean (e.g., Haiti) and African (e.g., Nigeria) first-generation immigrant families. In 2020-2021, the Academy celebrated the graduation of its pioneering cohort of 17 Scholars and in 2021 inducted 13 new Scholars. According to the American Psychological Association (APA), only 5% of psychology graduate students are Black, therefore the Academy’s recruitment, retention, and graduation of significantly higher numbers of Black students is notable.

Our talented Scholars—future leaders of the mental health field—are committed to being agents of social change and have demonstrated a record of exceptional accomplishments. Scholars have assumed student leadership positions at national professional accrediting organizations (e.g., APA) and at WJC, including directorships of student groups focused on multiculturalism and social justice. Furthermore, Scholars have been awardees of 37 prestigious merit scholarships in recognition of their admirable active support of underserved communities. Since 2016, Scholars have been instrumental in developing and hosting professional development events focused on marginalized groups including seminars, workshops, and film screenings. Twenty-five Scholars have worked to increase awareness of mental health in the Black community as guest speakers, presenters, and panelists on television shows (e.g., WGBH-TV Show “Basic Black”, Black Mental Health Matters Show) and podcasts (e.g., Pebbles & Leroy) as well as in national and local conferences (e.g., Massachusetts Psychological Association). In 2016, the Academy received a $7,500 award from APA's Commission on Ethnic Minority Recruitment, Retention and Training in Psychology, in recognition of our innovative strategies to recruit, retain, and graduate racial/ethnic minority students in psychology.

In February 2019, the Academy inaugurated a Psychology Today Blog. As of December 2021, our Scholars’ 10 articles had been viewed approximately 30,500 times, highlighting their impressive skills in effectively and broadly communicating complex issues associated with race/ethnicity and disparities in mental health.

Highlights

  • As of December 2021 and since its inception in 2016, the Academy has recruited and retained a total of 59 Scholars from WJC’s masters and doctoral programs, including the current 28 person cohort
  • 37 Prestigious merit scholarships and stipends have been awarded to Scholars, including 10 Scholars, in September 2021, who were awarded $2000 stipends from an Academy community partner, the Community Health Network Area 17 (CHNA17).
  • 25 Scholars have increased awareness of mental health in the black community as guest speakers, presenters, and panelists on radio and television shows and podcasts, at conferences, and in high-school and college classrooms
  • Our Scholars’ 10 Psychology Today Blog have been viewed over 30,500 times
  • $7,500 Award from American Psychological Association’s Commission on Ethnic Minority Recruitment, Retention and Training in Psychology

Note: An application form for Academy candidates will be available soon.

To learn more about the Black Mental Health Graduate Academy, please contact:

Natalie Cort, PhDNatalie Cort, PhD
Associate Professor, Clinical Psychology Department
Co-Director, Center for Multicultural and Global Mental Health
Director, Black Mental Health Graduate Academy natalie_cort@williamjames.edu

 

Scholarship Awardees

Every year, a number of students receive a scholarship for “Serving the Mental Health Needs of the Underserved.” This is a highly competitive scholarship at the college.

Read about CMGMH Fellows and Scholarship Awardees

CMGMH Newsletter

The Center for Multicultural and Global Mental Health produces a monthly newsletter. Read about our students, their work in the field, and upcoming events.

Click here for latest newsletter

Black Lives Matter

Statement from the Black Mental Health Graduate Academy

Read the statement

Question and Answer: “Black Health and Wellness”

Dr. Natalie Cort on Black Mental Health and the 2022 Theme for Black History Month.

Read More

Exploring Stigma, Stressors and Resilience Experienced by Men of Color

The Black Mental Health Graduate Academy, in partnership with the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health (DMH), hosted a panel discussion exploring mental health stressors and stigma, along with the underappreciated resilience and strengths, experienced by men of color.

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Building a Center of Gravity in Multicultural Education

Dr. Natalie Cort presented If You Build It, They Will Come: Building a Center of Gravity in Multicultural Education Through Transformative and Inclusive Practices, at the University of Rochester Psychiatry Department Grand Rounds. 

Read More